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With social media penetration at an apex internationally, niche’ communities are being built surrounding businesses of all sizes. But, is the planet’s blind rush to Facebook prudent?
Facebook may be big, but big does not always mean better for organizations taking steps to socialize their communities. Other businesses can easily stalk and market directly to your friends and customers. Facebook can take down your site without asking and privacy is a serious concern. Sound counterintuitive in light of Facebook’s mass? Let’s take a look at the liabilities and explore some solutions: [Post Split]
1 – Other Businesses Systematically Poach Your Facebook Fans
It’s very easy to find competitors’ Facebook followers’ profiles. Once identified, it’s so easy to jump in and participate in conversation threads with another businesses’ community. Also Facebook Ads targeting mechanism is a deadeye weapon of war with which to target communities’ that competitors have sweat bullets and treasure to assemble.
In fact, the more a business invests in building Facebook “Likes,” the easier it is to pilfer fans. Taco Bell has obviously expended a lot of energy earning “Likes” on their Facebook page. They’ve earned millions of fans.
Look how unbelievably easy it is to target Facebook users who are interested in Taco Bell with Facebook Ads.
Yes, it’s true! Facebook does not filter the ability to target trademarked brand terms in their ads engine. Build your community on Facebook and your customers are veritable sitting ducks for anyone to filch. Are you really willing to expand significant resources in a community space that exposes your precious customers to vultures?
2 – Facebook Can Take Down Your Site Without Asking
Increasingly, allegations of Facebook censorship have been flagged, even in the mainstream. You don’t own Facebook, they do. Therefore, at the end of the day, Facebook can modify and even remove your content without asking. Facebook has also been known to block outbound links to sites it considers harmful to Facebook users. To some it just does not make sense to put their community-building eggs in the Facebook basked. We live in a day and age when businesses have KPIs that include “Cost per like,” and associated cash investments that are serious. Do you really want Mr. Z’s posse to ride in an neuter your hard earned community?
3 – Privacy Concerns & Governmental Regulation
Accusing Facebook of “unfair and deceptive” practices, the American government recently announced a sweeping settlement requiring Facebook to better guard users’ privacy. Though there will be regular privacy audits for the next couple of decades, the Federal Trade Commission charged no fines and did not suggest that Facebook broke the law on purpose. Some Facebook users are leery and this may cause defections from the community over time.
A proposed European law attacks concerns about Facebook Ads and how FB mines user data for targeting. The new directive by a regulatory commission may prevent advertisers from leveraging users’s behavioral data. These concerns may filter down to top-of-mind user concerns and change the cultural dynamic surrounding Facebook’s massive growth. This much is apparent. Feast your eyes on this YouTube search result for the keyword “Hate Facebook” and you’ll be kept busy for quite a while.
Heck, even people USING Facebook spout off about hating Facebook!
You can target them too using Facebook Ads.
What Are The Alternatives?
Our agency has many clients that are successful on Facebook. In light of the liabilities, our tactic is often to channel everybody else’s community members to our clients’ Facebook communities and then lead them out of Facebook to other marketing channels. This can include email, SMS, proprietary social communities that clients own.
Though email is a rather primitive solution these days, it is still highly effective for various plays. Try promotions that move your Facebook fans to opt-in emails. Email is a closed loop system that, while not inherently viral, prevents other companies from mining conversations. It may sound silly but programs like ConstantContact and iContact are still great weapons in the social media marketers’ arsenal. Test offers that allow promotional offers to be forwarded and just watch.
SMS/Text tools are awesome. Instead of running Facebook Ads to get FB users to “Like” your fan page, test using them to garner SMS subscriptions. We’ve see fantastic conversion occur in many verticals, from fast food to hardware store coupons. Again, this tactic channels users out of the predatory Facebook jungle and into a system you control, absent nasty competitors and privacy concerns.
Another solution is to enable an organization’s’ website with features that facilitate social interaction among customers and potential friends. For those business not comfortable with Facebook’s porous deficiencies, forward thinking platforms are making next generation “owned” social networking site building tools to organizations of all stripes. Check out Ning platform installations for the Peace Corps and rock band icons Linkin Park.
We’re probably on the generational cusp of a new class of social tools that support businesses who don’t want their customers exposed to competitors’ predatory practices, desire to “own” their social community and do not compromise users’ privacy. Facebook may be big but big does not always mean better.